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Saucy Sinders & Her Double Entendre Crew!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
“When you’re over 50 never trust a fart” was the hilarious opener offered by the resident baddie in this year’s production of Cinderella at the Leeds City Varieties, setting the tone for a panto which would have given Roy Chubby Brown a run for his money!

But, as a staunch member of the anti-pc brigade, I have to say that it was hilarious, and as much for the parents as it was for the kids, who hadn’t a clue about the risqué material which came thicker than a wave of Jim Davidson gags!

“You know what the Baron’s balls are like when he gets a bit of drink in him,” chirped one of the players, intimating, somewhat innocently, that he was referring to the Royal Ball at which Cinders was about to appear, despite the best efforts of her brutish sisters, aka resident ‘uglies’, Scott Haining as Verruca and his sidekick, Matthew James Hinchliffe as Hernia. Both great fun.

The City Varieties has carved out a real niche for itself as ‘The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto’ and, despite a gap of a couple of years on my part, it felt as fresh as the first time I saw it.

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Having played the ‘Verts’ on a number of occasions, I know there is very little space in the wings but, somehow, this dynamic company – they perform and in between lines make up the ‘orchestra’ – manage to serve up a Royal banquet.

Traditional in ain’t – Dandini and the Prince are men for a start, not ‘principal boys’ – but this does not make the panto any less attractive, just different, although I do like a good thigh slap; a place for both!

However, what it loses in tradition, it makes up in spades. There are the copious bash ‘em and smash ‘em sound effects which I loved, although one or two people did murmur they might be a ‘bit too much’ encouraging kids to violence Not convinced about that one myself as a former Punch and Judy Professor but, each to their own.

Dandini, ‘the international rock god’ was played by Tom Connor, a man with a twinkle in his eye, and the perfect foil to Alex Wingfield’s Prince Charming, whilst petite Grace Lancaster as Cinderella, was the wide-eyed, polka dotted princess, who kept asking the Prince if he would ‘give me one’……a ticket to the ball. What did you think she meant?

Dyfrig Morris as Baron Hardup, Welsh but sounding as though he’d been imported from Barnsley, was excellent as the anchor man who drove the script forward, and I particularly applaud the fact that the early interaction with the audience – “who have we got in tonight” – was key to establishing rapid rapport, something the Carriageworks cast didn’t achieve until much further into playing time.

Rachel Nottingham as the Fairy Godmother was as vocally clear as a spring morning, her Buttons, Kenny Davies, was great fun, despite his questionable wig, and Katia Sartini as Rubella De Zees, the questionable, money grabbing mother of the Ugly Sisters, was not a woman you’d want to meet at a lottery-win celebration night.

This was a rocktastic production which I was looking forward to and, I have to say, I was NOT disappointed, as I guffawed my way through a script full of sauciness which still had loads for the younger members of the family, along with dozens of upbeat musical numbers.

This hard working cast deserve full credit and, if you are a parent who hates panto and are ‘doing it for the kids’, then this show is for you, because it will leave you laughing long after the young uns have opened their Christmas Day presents!

Cinderella The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto
City Varieties
Until 13th January 2019

Saucy Sinders & Her Double Entendre Crew!, 7th December 2018, 10:52 AM